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Why I started this. On coronavirus, sadness, being scared & connection

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James Bee asked me to share this post from my personal account as he felt it may be of some use to the Group who are feeling anxiety around coronavirus. I wrote this on the 11th March.

I woke up this morning sad and scared because of coronavirus. I did my morning practice, meditated, wrote, and sat with my sadness. Let myself cry for a while.

I’m not scared for myself. I’m in my 30s, female, healthy. I’m scared for my parents, my friends, my loved ones.

I’ve been trying to get hold of my mum and she’s not picking up. I think she and my dad are still away in Turkey. I emailed them both. Waiting now. My mum will be 70 in April, my dad is 86 and I’ve watched age whittle them, seen them become smaller, frailer, older. There are cases in Loughborough already and I feel the sense of sand running out of an hourglass.

My dad had a stroke last year. I don’t have the best relationship with my family. We didn’t talk for over two years and last year, when he got sick, that changed, slowly, a bridge not fully built, but a step closer to them again. The fear twining around my heart, like a black cat nudges me, whispers something I heard from Stephen Jenkinson. “Love and grief are twins with the same face.”

One of my best friends is immune system compromised. She’s been sick for eight weeks, home bound with a chest infection the doctors are worried was going to turn into pneumonia. I’m terrified for her. I wish I could wrap her flat in a bio-agent bubble, send her a supply of moon suits and food for three months. She’s being careful, self isolating under doctor’s orders. I write to her today. I love you. I love you. I love you.

Then there are my other mothers, my fairy goddess mothers, who found me and bless my life. They’re in their 70s. I’m talking to one of them tomorrow in Florida. I watch the case numbers there. Please. Stay inside. Take care.

I love you. I love you. I love you.

I think of Andy Chaleff’s The Last Letter Project. To write a letter to someone you love, realising they may not always be there, inspired by the letter he wrote to his mother after taking a sociology of death class. She received it a few hours before she was killed by a drunk driver.

What would you write? Maybe you write that letter now.

Why am I scared? Because I met a pandemic flu expert two weeks ago, because I have friends who are doctors, who work for the CDC, in public health, smarter than me, experts in their field and they are scared.

Because I understand what exponential growth is, even though the child in me is desperately hoping it is not true. There will be a magic fix. That we will be different, special. I look at Italy and I see the looking glass that is the future. I see what is coming.

I wish I was wrong.

I would be so happy if we were all wrong.

I started an online community organisation and information group in Stroud. Today, I went out for the last time for a while, looked at the faces in the supermarket, the woman ahead of me in the check out, in her 60s, placing her shopping into a reusable cotton bag, the teenagers eating chicken wings, laughing, chatting outside. Click goes the camera in my mind. Remember this. Before it happens. Remember people smiling.

I’m self isolating now, not for myself, but for everyone.

I’m grateful for my new flat, all woods and reds, a home and haven I’m making, a kitchen full of food, a job where I already work from home. Grateful for the people I’ve met organising in Stroud – smart, generous, kind, driven people, all of whom have asked – How are you doing? What do you need? How can we help?

That’s what I see over and over again. I want to help. How can we help?

That’s what holds me, my heart, in this time.

Please, please, please, stay at home. Whether you’re at risk or not. The best thing you can do is stay home. You will save lives by doing so. On another day, post, I’d share the science, the data but I’ve spent all day doing that, and right now, this is for how I’m feeling.

I’m scared. I’m sad. I love you.

As an update to the above – I got hold of my parents and they’re now self isolating. I pointed my immune system compromised friend to Queercare which has eased my heart with her.

Queercare are doing fantastic support work with excellent safety protocols with across their volunteer network to reduce risk of infection for the immune system compromised. I will post links to both Queercare and the Last Letter Project below.

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